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Hoover, Ford, Spiegel, Goodman and Beers Can’t All Be Wrong

In a recent tweet at the start of the 2017 Nevada legislative session, Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford (D-Las Vegas) wrote…

“As we are curating jobs we must protect those jobs. We want to give Nevada companies the first crack at state contracts.”

I think he meant “creating,” not “curating” (darned auto-correct!), but the sentiment is understood.

A quick Google search for waste hauling companies in Nevada turned up at least three dozen such small businesses in Las Vegas, and I suspect there are at least a couple hundred statewide.

Yet the City of Las Vegas is planning to extend a new 15-year no-bid monopoly franchise agreement for residential and commercial waste hauling to a huge out-of-state company, Republic Services, without giving Nevada companies ANY crack, let alone “first crack,” at the contract – or even a part of it.

In testimony on a bill to require competitive bidding for government contracts during the 2015 Nevada legislative session, Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel (D-Las Vegas) voiced support in order “to help open opportunities for additional businesses that do not currently have an opportunity.”

Mayor Carolyn Goodman has said she’s “always in favor of competition” and hopes the city can “find a way to give others who are struggling to get a foothold here a way to participate.”

One sure way is to issue an RFP (request for proposal) on this contract and open it to competition.  Another way would be to simply allow competitors to operate and let consumers – homeowners and businesses alike – decide which company they want to use rather than restrict the market by issuing a monopoly franchise to just one company.

Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Beers has said that “unless they (potential competitors) can offer specific ways they would offer a better or more cost-effective service (than Republic Services)…it would be a tough sell.”

Councilman Beers makes a valid point.  But the only way to know if potential competitors can offer better or more cost-effective service is to open the contract to competitive bidding and then evaluate the proposals – acknowledging that Republic will still enjoy “home field advantage.”

As Herbert Hoover so wisely once said, “Competition is not only the basis of protection to the consumer, but is the incentive to progress.”

Consumers are demanding, and receiving, far greater choices in whom they do business with in everything from taxis to lodging…and even electricity.  Who picks up my garbage should be no different.  Las Vegas should get with the times and open up its waste hauling contract to competition by issuing an RFP.